Peter J. Shellem Memorial Journalism Award

Tonight, I walked into the Department of Journalism awards ceremony at Temple University, not exactly knowing what award I won. I met the woman who was presenting my award upon arrival. This woman, Joyce, was Pete’s wife. I told her that I wasn’t quite exactly sure why I was there so she told me she didn’t want to give anything away. My award was presented towards the end of the ceremony, and as Joyce took the stand, I was excited to hear the story behind the award. She begins to tell the crowd that Pete was a highly-respected investigative reporter for 23 years. He wrote stories that resulted in the release of 5 wrongfully convicted individuals who were all serving life sentences. Pete was a hero, and advocated for lives that mattered. 

Joyce then starts talking about why she was referring to her husband in the past tense. One night, Pete told her that he loved her, but he didn’t want to live anymore. He went to the garage, got in his car, and shot himself. Joyce explained that Pete suffered from depression, and chills were immediately sent down my spine. I have suffered from depression for a long time during my journey, and there so may times I wanted to end my life. Was this fate? Was this coincidence? When Joyce called my name to come up and accept this award, I walked up and gave her a big hug, while tears were streaming down my face. I was beyond honored to receive this award.

Pete and I both transferred to Temple University from a community college. Pete and I both suffered from depression. Pete and I both have made it our duty to advocate for lives that matter. The similarities are chilling.

Pete’s name and work will live on forever, and I am proud to be a part of it. Pete is my newest HERO.

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